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Canon SX510 vs Nikon D1

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Nikon D1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and June 1999. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the D1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and an APS-C (D1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 2.6 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX510 versus Nikon D1
Canon SX510 Nikon D1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 6,400)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 2.0 LCD, 120k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.8 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
104 x 70 x 80 mm, 349 g 157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Nikon D1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX510 and the Nikon D1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX510 vs Nikon D1
Compare SX510 versus D1 top
Comparison SX510 or D1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D1 is considerably larger (230 percent) than the Canon SX510. It is noteworthy in this context that the D1 is splash and dust-proof, while the SX510 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX510 has a lens built in, whereas the D1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D1 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, the D1 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
2.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
5.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
6.
 
Canon SX600 104 mm 61 mm 26 mm 188 g 290 n Jan 2014 249i
7.
 
Canon SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
8.
 
Canon SX500 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 341 g 195 n Aug 2012 329i
9.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
11.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
12.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
13.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
14.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
15.
 
Nikon D1H 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
16.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
17.
 
Sony H200 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 240 n Jan 2013 249 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX510 was launched at a lower price than the D1, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX510 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D1 is 1221 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX510 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX510 and Nikon D1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX510 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the Nikon D1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, it should be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 14 years and 2 months) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX510 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon SX510 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX510 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

SX510 versus D1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
2.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
3.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
4.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
5.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
6.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
7.
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
8.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
9.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
10.
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
11.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
12.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
13.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
14.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
15.
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
16.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
17.
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p........

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SX510 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX510 can use is 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX510 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX510, the Nikon D1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
3.
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX520none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX600none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX400none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX500none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
9.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
10.
 
Canon Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
11.
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
14.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
17.
 
Sony H200none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX510 has one, while the D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX510 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The SX510 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D1 uses Compact Flash cards.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and Nikon D1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
2.
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
3.
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX520-stereomono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX600-monomono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX400-stereomono---2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX500-stereomono---2.0---
9.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Leica X2Y----mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
16.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
17.
 
Sony H200-monomono---2.0---

It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the D1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1 (unlike the SX510) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the SX510 and the D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the SX510 was followed by the Canon SX520. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX510 or the Nikon D1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 2.6MP) with a 141% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.8 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 157x153mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D1).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 14 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 1999).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (14 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX510 14:14 D1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX510 and the Nikon D1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX510 or the D1 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX510..+ +..4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249i
2.
 
Nikon D1....+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX520..+..3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
5.
 
Canon SX700..+ +..4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
6.
 
Canon SX600..+..4/54/5 Jan 2014 249i
7.
 
Canon SX400..+...... Jul 2014 249i
8.
 
Canon SX500..+ +..4/54/5 Aug 2012 329i
9.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Canon M3/5+..4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
11.
 
Leica X23/5....3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
12.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
13.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
14.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
15.
 
Nikon D1H....+ +.... Feb 2001 4,499i
16.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
17.
 
Sony H200......3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2013 249 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX510:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D1:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Nikon D1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2013 June 1999
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 2.6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 2000 x 1312 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 11.93 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200 - 6,400 ISO
    Screen Specs Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 120k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.8 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX510 Nikon D1
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NB-6LH EN-4
    Body Dimensions 104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    Camera Weight 349 g (12.3 oz) 1100 g (38.8 oz)

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